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Soipan Tuya election changes perception of women leadership among the Maasai

Written by Kabia Matega

Youthful Soipan Tuya, daughter of former Narok South legislator Samson ole Tuya was the last person to declare her candidature in the race for the Narok County Women’s Representative seat three months to the General Elections.

At first, people thought she was a compromise candidate sponsored by individuals who were out to complicate the race that was dominated by women political giants from the County.

She was not known in the political arena although it was easy to relate and introduce her through her father’s name.

Her political prospects began to rise during the funeral of the late Patricia Parcitau where she was introduced as a friend to the deceased from their days in secondary school and university.

Soon after the introduction, mourners began endorsing the youthful lawyers as the best person to replace Parcitau.

Days before Parcitau’s death, she was perceived as the top contender for the seat despite the politics behind her marital status that she was married to a man from outside the County. However, Parcitau managed to solve the issue and ended up leading in the contest.

{jb_quoteright}“I promised to follow in the footsteps of Parcitau to endear myself to the electorate and keep her fire burning.”

- Soipan Tuya{/jb_quoteright}


“I promised to follow in the footsteps of Parcitau to endear myself to the electorate and keep her fire burning,” Tuya told the mammoth crowd in response to their endorsement.


She further received support from Deputy President and United Republican Party (URP) leader William Ruto who offered to sponsor her through his party’s ticket. Ruto had personally attended the funeral to campaign for the youthful lawyer who at the end of the vote count emerged victor with an indisputable margin.

Deeply rooted cultural beliefs among the “Maa” community worked against other women aspirants who opted out of the political race.

Women are still perceived as second class citizens in Maasailand and only a few have the guts to openly challenge men in any contest lest they are viewed as outcasts in the society.

Despite the endless sensitization  campaigns targeting the community, only a handful of women contested for elective seats.

Most female aspirants crowded themselves in the Women Representative seat and left the men to compete for other elective positions and at the end of the elections only one was declared winner.

The Narok County Women’s Representative seat attracted Agnes Shonko, a career secondary teacher, Janet Nchoko, also a teacher, Lydia Ntimama, a seasonal politician who rose to become the  chairperson of Narok County Council Audit Committee, Agnes Pareiyo a long serving civic leader with the defunct Narok County Council and United Nations (UN) woman of the year 2004 courtesy of her contribution in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriage for girls in the Maasai community. Others were Eunice Marima, wife to former Narok North MP Moses ole Marima and  Josephine Kimeto, a business woman.

Tuya is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya with a keen interest in public litigation gender integration as a critical tool for sustainable development.

She undertook undergraduate studies in law at the University of Nairobi and later on pursued a Masters of Laws degree at the University of Washington in the United States.

Human rights

She has worked in the human rights, gender and access to justice field with the Ministry of Justice, Kituo cha Sheria, Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO) and the  government task force on community land and USAID.

She is a member of the Law Society of Kenya, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Global Indigenous Women Caucus.

During her campaigns, she asked the locals to rally behind her bid saying that she will ensure their voices are heard in the Government. Tuya noted that women are important in the society and that they should be given equal share of leadership positions.

The new Women Representative pledged to initiate development projects and further involve women in project development.


This article was originally published in the Kenyan Woman Issue 37: Status of Women

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